There was a little morning sea mist over Santa Monica the other morning. I saw it out the secondstory window, gathering up my things in a fix after our very early Sunday practice (shhhh…). The mist hung in between the big hairy tops of the palm trees all fifteen blocks to the ocean, sketching in the distance between me and them. The closer trees made a stark shadow against the heavy air, but the further ones were sketchier and sketchier until, maybe 14 blocks out, they just disappeared into white.
Looking out, stoned receptive on sun salutations and all that, I had the strongest jolt of recollection from a decade ago.
Sitting atop a hill in the middle of Cambodian countryside, between my brilliant boyfriend and a traveling partner very quickly losing her mind. January 1998. Dazed in heat and history, still reeling from Tuol Sleng. That hilltop covered in a fort from the war—turrets and everything—probably build to fend off the Vietnamese back in the day. It was the height of the currency crisis and weeks before Nate Thayer would find Pol Pot out in hinterlands not so far from there, speaking up to “set the record straight” just before he fucking bit it.
The palms in mist drew the sensations of that day back on me suddenly, slipping out of my spine like the remnant of some old “trip.” I was thinking, sitting on that hill, of a field of dandelions gone to seed—the nearer palms in a heavy outline, the farther ones marking off the short distance to obscurity. But not a fertile summer field beneath those “flowers”: instead landmines, the horror of a collectively-suppressed memory, corpses, maybe battle lines, little source of commerce or sustenance.
It is ridiculous, the beauty and the peace, the utter possibilities and joy that are in my life here. I don’t understand how hard it could be—don’t understand at all.